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Cerebral Palsy and Electronic Fetal Monitoring: Rearranging The Titanic’s Deck Chairs

Electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) has repeatedly proven clinically ineffectual, caused more harm than good to mothers and babies alike, and trapped obstetricians into daily violations of fundamental medical ethics. EFM is also the foundation for the continuing worldwide cerebral palsy (CP) birth injury litigation crisis which routinely results in lottery-like verdicts and settlements which only benefit trial lawyers. Birth-related professional organizations (BRPOs) have had the power to stop EFM’s clinical proliferation, deal with the ethical violations, and put an end to the undeserved verdicts and settlements against physicians unjustly blamed for causing CP. These organizations have done nothing. This article reviews the myths behind EFM, explains why CP-EFM litigation is so successful, outlines the ethical dichotomy created by this scientifically flawed procedure, and proposes a solution to change the clinical standard of care, linking EFM to the Daubert exclusionary evidence doctrine recognized throughout the world’s courts, thereby ending CPEFM litigation.


Thomas P Sartwelle and James C Johnston

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